Global warming is already affecting Utah, and will continue to do so for decades to come. In the absence of national policy that jumpstarts the clean energy economy by ramping down dangerous carbon emissions, our economy and wildlands are at an even greater risk.
A decade after it was first adopted by the U.S. Forest Service, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule has proven to be remarkably successful in protecting the 58.5 million acres of national forest roadless areas from road building and logging.
The Wilderness Society's Ecology and Economics Research Department analyzed the technically recoverable natural gas and oil from the 77 challenged leases in Utah, and found that the potential natural gas and oil under those contested leases amounts to a miniscule amount of energy.
The Washington County Growth and Conservation Act of 2009 was created out of many months of discussion and debate among local groups and individuals with interests on both sides of the wilderness controversy. It led to some public land being moved into private hands and protection of land with wilderness characteristics. Neither side got everything it wanted, but everybody got something.
The public lands protected under U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett's Washington County lands bill could end up as the senator's greatest legacy. But the successful negotiation and compromise that led to a sensible plan for fragile lands in Southern Utah should not end with Bennett's ouster from the Republican ticket this year.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s first major decision — to cancel oil and gas leases on 77 parcels of public land in Utah — could not have sent a clearer signal that his department is under new management. It also was a strong indication that the Obama administration intends to take a more measured approach to energy exploration on the public lands and that its predecessor’s drill-now, drill-anywhere policies are a thing of the past.